Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted 2000

"Excellent"

Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted 2000 Review


Anyone who thinks animated movies are just for kids has never seen Spike and Mike's Sick & Twisted Animation Festival. Since 1990, Mellow Manor Productions has sent a fine selection irreverent material on tour around the world. Some were even screened at "The Shortest Night" at Cannes last May.

Never for the weak stomach, this is the most shocking entertainment that can be drawn with crayons or molded with clay. The searing originality is generated from a variety of techniques as well as subject matter. Claymation, pencil drawing, stop motion animation with inanimate objects and more create an otherwise ignored eclectic mix. Sometimes one of these short films seeks a talented pen instead of a plot, but the result still provokes involuntary jaw dropping. Even when one of the films becomes utterly antagonizing to the eyes, they are kept as short as a standard attention span.

This year's (the 2000 edition) roundup spans topics from necrophilia to how children can manipulate their parents. An undertaker kills a priest in Deep Sympathy (by Mike Grimshaw) so that he can have sex with corpses, only to have his genitals eaten by worms. Beat the Brat (by Eli Kabillio) is a cute commercial for how kids can get those special treats while grocery shopping.

Other enjoyable subversive treats include the darkly comical Wheelchair Rebecca (by Roy T. Wood), where a young girl is illuminated by her mommy as to how her poor Darbie ended up in a wheelchair. Claymation is brilliantly mixed with Barbie dolls as her mother explains each possible scenario, from rough sex with her boyfriend to a mistake in anal probing by aliens. Every detail in both dialogue and picture is sculpted to perfection.

For a more mainstream audience come submissions by Pixar (Toy Story) and Aardman Studios (Wallace and Gromit). For the Birds maniacally routes for the underdog, and Aardman's installment comes in a four-piece serial that makes for pleasantly bitter teen adventures throughout the 75 minutes of eye candy.

While Spike and Mike's tenaciously provokes, there are a few selections in this current collection that lose momentum. Sloaches Fun House (Clayboy Enterprises) is nothing more than naked clay hermaphrodites having illicit sex and an obese character defecating on camera. Who cares? It's not entertaining and the stop motion makes it feel even slower.

Rejected (by Don Hertzfeldt) could have been more interesting if less time were spent on it. Sure, everyone wants to support art over the oppressive corporate establishment, but 10 one-minute sketches of stick figures hurting one another are monotonous. It's too easy to understand that these cartoons were rejected because they were not what the artist was hired for. The moments of squiggly titles explaining his downfall don't create sympathy for his plight because the adventure is so exhausting.

With more hits than misses, Spike and Mike have again uncompromisingly thrown together another series that shouldn't be missed by those who appreciate animation with graphic content. It's a welcome rebellion against the Disneyfied genre, not to mention Mellow Manor has a penchant for picking geniuses. After all, they did premiere The Spirit of Christmas, the first uncensored South Park short by Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Who knows what they will discover next.

For a complete list of titles on this year's tour, and screening schedule, visit the Spike and Mike website (see below). This guilty treat is worth a look when it hits your town.

It spews.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Nick Gibbons, Walter Santucci, Darren Walsh, Q. Allan Brocka, Dave Lipson, Eli Kabillio, Ralph Eggleston, Raymond S. Persi, Matthew Nastuk, Don Hertzfeldt, Goeff Marslett, Michael Comas, Pete Metzger, Jeff Pee, Chris Graphenberg, Shane Acker, Roy T. Wood, Mike Grimshaw

Producer: Craig Decker

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